The Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils celebrated their 12th Anniversary last night at the CBS lot with their famous mixer. Nearly all of the 34 Neighborhood Councils in the Valley were in attendance to mix and mingle with one another and with City electeds and department heads. City Attorney Mike Feuer, Controller Ron Galperin, Councilmember Paul Koretz, Councilmember Mitch Englander, Board of Public Works President Kevin James and District Attorney Jackie Lacey were some of the public officials who stopped by to meet with Neighborhood Council leaders. VANC founder, Jill Banks Barad, was honored by the VANC Executive Board with the first Jill Banks Barad Award for Sustained Excellence in Leadership.
Some great stories were shared among the Neighborhood Councils, such as Sylmar Neighborhood Council board member Lucille Florenta, who was hosted by various city mayors on a recent visit to the Philippines for her work on the Neighborhood Council. The big event of the evening though (besides door raffles!) was the VANC’s Best of Awards recognizing Valley Neighborhood Councils for exceptional work this past year. Here are the well deserving winners:
“ Best of a Collaborative Project to Instill Community Pride”
North Hollywood West and North Hollywood North East Neighborhood Councils
For years, the Whitsett slope was considered a blighted area. It was unsightly and weed-infested. A neighborhood cleanup in spring 2013 initiated a multi-phase beautification plan. And last year, VANC awarded the “Best of…” Award to the North Hollywood West and North Hollywood North East neighborhood councils, for “Best of Partnering with City, State and Community for Community Improvement”.
Just months after first sprucing it up, Councilmember Krekorian worked with the North Hollywood West Neighborhood Council, and the the North Hollywood North East Neighborhood Council, along with City departments and others to add plumbing and irrigation for plants and shrubbery.
On November 15,2014, Councilmember Krekorian and the North Hollywood community unveiled L.A.’s newest—and one of the city’s largest—public murals, the “Vintage North Hollywood Mural,” a 9,000-square-foot artwork that covers the Whitsett Slope.
It was created with funding secured by Councilman Krekorian and was painted by artists Ernie Merlan and Levi Ponce. The mural is 240-feet wide and 40-feet long .
The mural brings to fruition, years of community planning and collaboration to beautify the slope and honor North Hollywood’s rich history and contributions to the development of Los Angeles. The collaborative efforts were led by the North Hollywood West and North Hollywood North East Neighborhood Councils, along with the North- North Hollywood Neighborhood Watch and the Strathern Neighborhood Watch.
To quote Councilmember Krekorian, “This is a community triumph and an example of the great things that come out of collaboration. The Whitsett Slope was an overgrown, debris-ridden mess with a 240-foot long slab of concrete in the middle. Now, it’s got great landscaping and a fantastic mural that everyone can enjoy.”
For the “ Best of …a Collaborative Project to Create Community Pride”, VANC recognizes the North Hollywood West and North Hollywood North East Neighborhood Councils.
“Best of… a Project for Working with a Challenging Social Issue”
Sun Valley Area Neighborhood Council
Approximately four years ago, the Sun Valley Area Neighborhood Council was invited to become the first Neighborhood Council to join with the San Fernando Valley Homeless Coalition, as a pilot partnership.
The relationship within the Coalition grew to where the Neighborhood Council decided to form a Sun Valley Area Neighborhood Council Homeless Committee, to report to the Board on the ongoing projects and progress with the Coalition.
The four original attendees to the SFV Homeless Coalition meetings were Mike O’gara, Gary Aggas, Monica Vacas, and Linda Housden RN. They have continued to attend these monthly meetings, and have not only impacted the Sun Valley community partnerships within this Coalition, but the Sun Valley Neighborhood Council as well.
The neighborhood council’s most recent project with the Coalition was to participate in the 2015 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. A total of 6,000 volunteers were needed throughout L. A. County. The entire Sun Valley Area Neighborhood Council, immediately jumped on board to help recruit many volunteers in all communities. Flyers, word of mouth, email invitations, and Facebook were utilized.
The Neighborhood Council was asked if it would be willing to be the Deployment Site Coordinator and Trainer for all of Sun Valley Homeless Count to take place on January 2015. Neighborhood council members jumped in to help, providing snacks and going out into the field to do the count. And this was the first event the newly elected youth members participated in, doing volunteer registration and assisting where needed at the deployment site.
One early barrier to overcome may have been to gain trust in their partnership with the Homeless Coalition. But, respect for one another has grown and the communities have been brought closer together. The neighborhood council works with such organizations as, Chrysalis, Hope of the Valley, LA Family Housing, LA County Department of Public Health, LA County Dept. of Mental Health, LA Homeless Services Authorities, North East Valley Health Corporation, LAPD, North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry, Tarzana Treatment Center, The Village Family Services, Volunteers of America, Councilmember Paul Krekorian and his staff, and Councilwoman Nury Martinez and her staff .
The Sun Valley Area Neighborhood Council will assist the Coalition in their ongoing endeavors, such as the upcoming Health Fair to be held at the North Hollywood Park in April. Members of the Sun Valley Area Neighborhood Council have offered to volunteer and assist where needed. The Council sees first- hand the difference they are making and the fruit of their hard work. Their goal is to see the end of homeless Veterans by the end of the year.
We are proud to present the VANC “Best of… a Project for Working with a Challenging Social Issue” to Sun Valley Area Neighborhood Council.
“Best of… Being a Role Model for Dealing with Land Use Projects”
Studio City Neighborhood Council
The Studio City Neighborhood Council, like all of the Neighborhood Councils in Los Angeles, is made up of community volunteers.
Over the last 16 months, an Ad hoc committee formed by the Board, and comprised of the president, Chair of the Land Use Committee, Chair of the Transportation Committee, and the Chair of Government Affairs of the Studio City NC, took on THREE, very involved and controversial development projects affecting Studio City.
The Committee read over 4,700 pages in three different and voluminous Draft Environmental Impact Reports. The Committee then reported back to the full Board which responded by holding several open, agendized Special Board meetings and sharing the findings of the Committee’s reports with the community. Some of these meetings had over 450 people in attendance. Every stakeholder was given the opportunity to speak.
Here are some of the results:
NBCUniversal– the brokerage and negotiations with NBCUniversal has been completed and agreed upon, and the Council was also able to negotiate $100,000 in beautification monies for its community.
Harvard/Westlake Overpass– the Council has just submitted its response to the Harvard/Westlake Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) to the City.
Both of these reports have been sent to Studio City’s City Councilmember, Paul Krekorian who will use this information when the final decision is rendered on these projects.
Studio City Golf & Tennis property– the Council recently completed its response regarding the Studio City Golf & Tennis property, which was put forth by the applicant to turn it into a Condominium project. Studio City’s response, led from the community, was 100% against the proposed project and Councilmember Krekorian heard his constituents and has announced his position and agreement on maintaining Open Space.
The Council opened up its process and each and every Stakeholder in Studio City who wanted to voice an opinion, was given that opportunity at the five Special Meetings and full presentations were made on these projects.
The Studio City Neighborhood Council represented the community of Studio City and was the voice for the community, over the many months of reading, investigating, and then, putting together written responses on these land use issues. The Council has shown that what is necessary, is to always be thoroughly prepared. They have demonstrated how it should be done, and are therefore a model for other neighborhood councils to follow.
Congratulations to the Studio City Neighborhood Council for the VANC “Best of…Being a Role Model for Dealing with Land Use Projects”
“Best of Creative Use of the Website to Engage the Community”
Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council
As we all know, Outreach is an ongoing process. To make sure no one is left out, and no one misses what takes place, Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council uses Video to deliver digital engagement on its website to engage more citizen participation.
Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council has always had a creative eye for capturing Outreach- from postcards, newsletters, road shows presentations, historical, arts & culture events, recreation activities, and the “awesomeness” of Sunland-Tujunga’s unique character and its stakeholders.
After years of volunteer efforts in photos and video, the Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council purchased a Digital camera. Over 170 videos are now online and you can see them first- hand from the Council’s Video link: stnc.org website.
Consistent outreach: facts and fun. Videotaping: What better way than to hear it, as it was said, as well as see it, and how it really happened!
Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council has proven it can bring out the numbers to its meetings with an average of 100 people that attend monthly Board meetings. The Land Use Committee typically sees 30-40 in attendance, but if a controversial issue comes up such as the CA High Speed Rail, or a proposed major development with hundreds of homes, the audience can exceed 2000!
The neighborhood council wants to gives credit to Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council Board member, and Entertainment Industry Representative, Krystee Clark. She is currently behind the camera, always doing an amazing job of recording and posting video of current events, and those events with historical value, in Sunland-Tujunga and throughout the City.
The Council’s motto is: Get Involved and Share Your Voice! stnc.org
VANC is delighted to present the “Best of…a Creative Use of the Website to Engage the Community” to Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council.
“Best of …” Putting Public Safety First
Chatsworth Neighborhood Council
Public safety is not just something to talk about in Chatsworth. Within minutes after the deadly 2008 Metrolink train crash, Chatsworth Neighborhood Council members swung into action making sandwiches at a nearby grocery store and delivering cases of water, snacks and other supplies to First Responders. In the 48 hours after the crash, the neighborhood council arranged for more than 2,000 full meals to officers at the scene.
The Chatsworth Neighborhood Council has always taken whatever steps were necessary to ensure that its First Responders have the equipment they need.
Chatsworth has two fire stations, on opposite sides of major railroad tracks that divide the community in half. It was a shock to most of the neighborhood council’s Public Safety & Transportation Committee when they learned that only one of the local stations was equipped with the “Jaws of Life”, which is used to cut people out of mangled vehicles.
Chatsworth Neighborhood Council has had an extremely close relationship with its First Responders since its founding in 2002. There are constant calls for rescues on the 118 Freeway and clogged surface streets, and there is no nearby trauma center. In addition, because of its location in the far northwest corner of the Valley, with lots of open hillsides and canyons, wildfires are always a major threat.
As the last fiscal year was ending, there was a mad dash to rearrange the neighborhood council budget to buy the “Jaws of Life”, which costs a hefty $11,700. Several other previously approved projects were scrapped to have enough money for such a large expenditure. DONE funding staff and the Mayor’s office were able to cut red tape and expedite the project. The money was transferred to the main Fire Department and they were able to buy and deliver the “Jaws of Life” before June 30, 2014. Within two days of arriving in Chatsworth, the device was used to save two lives. And just last month, it was used at least two to three times a week!
Each year the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council sets aside a significant portion of its budget to help local firefighters and police. Because the city won’t pay for many items the First Responders use to provide full service, the neighborhood council works with local firefighters to fulfill their “wish list”.
In its 13 years, Chatsworth Neighborhood Council has contributed to nearly every project the Devonshire Division of LAPD has undertaken to refurbish or upgrade the Northridge station, which is the oldest in the city. Among those projects were a new roll call and break room, a forced-option gun simulator for officer training, a new gym for officers and replacement of broken chairs for detectives.
For always supporting the First Responders who protect them daily, VANC honors the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council for “Best of … Putting Public Safety First”.
“Best of Combining Outreach with the Environment”
Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council
The Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council’s original idea was just to give away free trees. The plan was to hold the Give-Away on February 14 and combine it with Valentine’s Day, so the event was named “We Heart Trees”.
Arrangements were made with LADWP and City Plants for 225 shade and fruit trees to be delivered to the Department of Recreation and Parks Sherman Oaks/East Valley Adult Center.
And then the event grew, like a blossoming tree!
Anticipating that if someone didn’t have a place to plant a tree, each tree had a big red bow on it for gifting, put on by the seniors at the Senior Center. The publicity said, “a living gift that will last a lifetime.”
A major component of the event was Conservation and Efficiency. The Neighborhood Council partnered with DWP to have an information booth with information regarding energy and water efficiency, consumer rebates, home energy programs and water programs.
The Sherman Oaks Outreach Committee, chaired by Sherry Revord, expanded the idea of the Tree Giveaway to include a DJ playing music, refreshments, and a kids’ activity booth; it became an event for the whole family!
“We Heart Trees” started at 10 a.m. and people were already lined up at 9 :00 anxious to get their tree. The council members worked the line to sign up 125 people for the council’s database to receive its email blasts. It turned out to be a great Outreach event!
The Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council Board members helped in the parking lot, served sandwiches and water, staffed the council’s information booth and helped wherever they were needed.
Everyone was delighted to take home their tree. It was such a successful event that Sherman Oaks is planning to make it an annual event.
For VANC’s the “Best of … Combining Outreach with the Environment” we salute the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council.
“Best of… Combining Safety and Health in a Community Event”
West Hills Neighborhood Council
The 7th Annual Eggstravaganza Safety and Health Fair was held last April at the West Hills’ Shadow Ranch Park. This was a hugely popular event and is coordinated by the West Hills Neighborhood Council in cooperation with the Shadow Ranch Recreation Center and the Woodland Hills Recreation Center. Bob Brostoff, Chair of the West Hills Neighborhood Council’s Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee led the organizing committee with assistance from the recreation centers.
The event attracted more than 2,500 children and adults from West Hills and surrounding areas. The event combined holiday fun with opportunities for learning about emergency services, disaster preparedness and family health.
All activities were free. Children scooped up thousands of eggs filled with candy and participated in all kinds of activities, including visits with the “Big Bunny” and a rock-climbing wall.
Children and adults were allowed close- up looks at emergency vehicles and safety, and health professionals were on hand to talk about emergency preparedness, search and rescue, fitness, fire prevention, paramedic services and home safety. Adults had the opportunity to give blood at a donation center provided by Providence Health.
More than 40 booths were staffed by the West Hills Neighborhood Council, elected officials, local clubs and safety and health care providers.
There was live entertainment throughout the day and refreshments. This was certainly the biggest event of the year for the West Hills Neighborhood Council!
The VANC “Best of… Award for Combining Safety and Health in a Community Event” is presented to the West Hills Neighborhood Council.
VANC “David & Goliath” Award
Ron Ziff, Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council
Ron Ziff, Chair of the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council’s Land Use Committee and our council’s First Vice President , took it upon himself to try to resolve the incredible traffic jam at Sepulveda and Ventura during rush hours. Caltrans and DOT had figures showing that there 600,000 car trips daily between the Valley and West LA.Every one of those cars joined the traffic jam and passed through Sherman Oaks.
The only public transportation alternatives were a bus to UCLA that looped around the campus and then dead ended at the VA.…and a promise from Metro that a train would be running in 28 years.
Ron spent countless hours talking with several City Council members and County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and anyone at Metro he could find. He also testified at Metro hearings. In May 2013 he chaired the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council “Transportation Town Hall” with Caltrans, Metro, and DOT, where a packed auditorium demanded answers.
Because of Ron’s continued efforts, in December 2014, Metro finally started running a separate bus line from the Valley directly to the Federal Building on Wilshire Blvd in West LA without looping around UCLA , saving riders 40 minutes. It is called the Valley Westside Express, but we call it the “Ziff Express”!
The other bus line travels from the Orange Line on Sepulveda and takes Sepulveda to UCLA and Westwood Village. These two lines running at morning and evening rush hours are already carrying 14,000 people a day!
It’s only a small step, but one that Metro would not have done on their own. And wouldn’t have done without Ron Ziff!
For Ron’s herculean efforts in personally lobbying City Council members and overcoming the resistance of an intransigent bureaucracy at Metro to get these new bus lines, we give Ron Ziff the “David and Goliath” Award.